Thursday, April 9, 2015

Walter Scott's murder: All workers must take a stand.

by Facts For Working People Admin

The shooting in the back of an unarmed black man by a white cop in North Charleston South Carolina is yet another murder that most likely would have been swept under the rug were it not for the abundance of cameras these days, almost everyone with a phone has one. The cop, Michael Slager, fired 8 bullets at the fleeing Walter Scott hitting him in the back and killing him.  Slager has been charged with murder and is in jail with no bail. Scott died after initially being stopped for a broken break light. The shooting was the 11th involving a police officer in South Carolina this year and the second in North Charleston.

Millions of people have seen the shocking video taken by a witness to the shooting.  It is a horrifying sight that has no other explanation other than Scott was murdered.  One criminologist and former cop told the Wall Street Journal that the shooting of the fleeing man was “beyond the pale”.

The reality is that this is not an isolated event as the media and the police authorities are claiming.  It is not a question of a “bad apple” casting a dark cloud over this particular city’s police department.  North Charleston’s Police Chief would have us think so with his comment that, “One does not totally throw a blanket across the many.”

Scott’s father is correct when he said on NBC’s today show that, “Without the video, it would have never come to light. They would have swept it under the rug, like they did with so many others."  It is harder to cover these events with the usual, “The officer feared for his life” and other blanket press releases in cases like these.  There were protests in North Charleston yesterday against what some described as,”… a culture of police brutality in South Carolina.”,  but it is beyond South Carolina. There is a culture of police brutality and racism throughout US society, racism is built in to US capitalism, it is not an aberration. And state violence has been the norm in US history not the exception as official history tells it.  The police and other armed bodies have been used again and again in order to maintain social control against an often rebellious population; the native people, black youth and workers of all backgrounds. Unions were built in the midst of the most brutal assault by forces of the state to prevent them.

In an effort to explain this latest assassination away, much of the debate in law enforcement circles and the mass media is around police training or the lack of it, Slager for instance had only nine weeks of training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy according to reports.  Others are trying to explain it away as a terrible unfortunate mistake, an error in judgment, “It seems like a judgment issue not a training issue” says one police representative in Idaho.

If events of the past are any indication it is most likely the heads of organized labor with their considerable resources will utter a few words of sympathy and that’s it.  And where are the religious leaders, the white ones, pastors of the thousands of churches who have such a huge influence in the South and throughout the country?  One union official at the height of the Ferguson protests told one of his members who suggested the union do more that “It’s not our fight”. But those of us in unions should bring this issue up at our locals and move resolutions calling for mass rallies in our communities against racism, police abuse and for jobs.  Workers from all backgrounds, Latino’s Asian, and especially European American/white workers should be discussing this issue in the workplaces and openly condemn it and join with African American workers and youth in building national protests and a movement against what are modern day lynchings.

It important that white workers don’t stay quiet as it will strengthen the state’s efforts to play the divide and rule tactic.  There is all this talk of racial tension but that tension should be between all workers against the police and the state.  They will try as they always do to portray the white officer as one of “ours” meaning white workers, but he is not and his actions and the racism in society hurts the interests of all workers no matter what our backgrounds. I’ve had lengthy discussions with European American workers over the last couple of days and most of them are disgusted by this murder.  Many of them simply don’t know how to deal with it or where to go. And they are also aware that as white skinned workers, they will be associated with people like Slager.  The first step in undermining the divide and rule strategy is to speak out and condemn this murder in no uncertain terms and join with our African American brothers and sisters in any planned activities and protests that arise because of it.

We also praise the young Latino man who shot the video and sent a copy to the Scott family.  The public’s negative view of the police, especially the poor and people of color, is confirmed by the comments the young mad made to reporters.  He said that he feared for his life after handing over the video.  Why would that be if the fairytale image of the state and its security arm had any basis in reality.

With regards to the police we can expect further repression and violence ahead as a response to a movement that will inevitably arise in opposition to the increased attacks on living standards, unions, workers and the poor as the US 1% is forced to drive the US working class back to pre 1930’s conditions.  The increased militarization of state security forces is part of this preparation that intensified after the WTO events in Seattle in 1999 and the rise of the Occupy Movement.

The founders of this blog do not believe the police can be reformed, can ultimately serve the interests of working people. But this does not mean that with massive pressure from below, pressure that is growing thanks to the protests around the country that have accompanied numerous police murders, that they won’t make some changes to curb the more direct abuse and racial prejudice in order to calm things down a bit.  The treatment of those in prison is also an issue closely linked to this.  Hopefully we will have something on this wider issue in another commentary.

The immediate response from all workers must be to make it clear where we stand-----we stand with Walter Scott, his family and all black workers and youth in their struggle against racism. As  European/American workers, this means when those white workers that support those racist commentators who hide their racism behind the cloak of conservative thinking, we must challenge them and if necessary break with them. We don't want to hear that crap anymore.  Re-consider your views, or be honest about your racism and lets openly stand on the two sides of this issue and fight it out.

Let's see clearly who are the enemies of workers and who are our friends.

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